Interfaith Leaders Hold Press Conference; Support DuPage Mosque

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CAIR-Chicago participated in an interfaith press conference held on behalf of the Muslim Education and Cultural Center of America (MECCA), the third mosque denied a permit in DuPage County in the past year.

Representatives from Chicago’s faith community included Kiran Ansari and Zaher Sahloul from CIOGC (The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago), Jane Ramsey from JCUA (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs); Dr. Scott Alexander from The Catholic Theological Union; Josh Hoyt from ICIRR (Ill. Council on Immigrant and Refugee Rights); Rev. Michael Mann from the Presbyterian Church; and Rev. Paul Reutgers, Co-Executive Director of The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.

Representatives from MECCA shared the many ways they tried to placate the board.  In matters regarding traffic, flooding and landscaping, MECCA made numerous concessions to meet the board’s requirements as well as please neighbors.

“I’m confident that they will look at the facts that we have to give them.  They will see that we’ve met every requirement set fourth by them and we will eventually get our permit,” said Abdulgany Hamadeh, Chairman of the board of MECCA.

DuPage County zoning board officials said another reason for their recommendation for denial is an “over saturation” of religious institutions in the county.

CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said that means one mosque must constitute an “over saturation” for them, then.

“This is reminiscent of the rhetoric used to keep Jewish families out of certain neighborhoods in the fifties,” said Jane Ramsey.  “My family had to deal with those zoning ordinances back then and this is steeped in the same kind of rhetoric.”

A representative from another mosque denied in DuPage County spoke as well.  Gulam Samdani from ICWS (Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs) shared his experience and pointed out the trend developing in DuPage County of keeping mosques from being built.

Samdani expressed his gratitude to the members of the faith community who came together for the press conference to urge for the mosque’s approval.  This situation reminded Samdani of the creation of the constitution, and the importance of upholding the most inherent rights promised by it.

When Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall from and the constitutional convention, the gathering crowd asked him, “What kind of government did you give us?”

Franklin responded, “A republic– if you can keep it.”
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Copyright © 2011 Medill News Service

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